29 October 2019

DICTATORIALISM (I think that’s a word!) – Making sure your team or agencies create live events, exhibitions or pavilions that deliver the greatest value and impact means understanding the unique pressures, lack of control and fixed deadline that plague them. In turn, the open, healthy dialogue and democratic processes and management everyone enjoys, are all well and good – yet fundamentally flawed. You need a balance of dictatorial leadership and democratic management if your live event stands any chance of delivering its full potential. 3 minutes of video to explain…


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a Producer, Designer and Director.

Now if you’re involved in live events, exhibitions or pavilions in any way, shape or form, and at any scale and you’re looking to create the most value and most impact, you need something in place that I call “dictatorial leadership and democratic management.”

I use the term ‘dictatorial’ affectionately, I’m not suggesting you hire people who are going to start reigning aggression on all around them.

However, when you, your team or your agencies are creating and producing a live event, you’re likely to have a team that need to work together collaboratively. To perform well, these people need to work in a fair, open, encouraging and motivated environment. They need to feel safe airing their ideas and issues, knowing their opinions will be considered. This is how people in positive, modern environments are happy working. It’s a democracy, as it should be. Democracy is all well and good. But democracy has one major drawback. And that drawback is democracy’s inability to hit deadlines or move quickly.

Live events typically have a fixed deadline, everyone is watching, and it’s almost impossible to be in complete control of everything contributing towards success. When good and proper democratic working practices mean key milestones are being missed, or worse, your final event deadline is at risk, a democratic workplace overseen by well-intentioned and qualified managers is the exact opposite of what you need.

It is at this point you need a friendly dictator. Someone able, willing, and empowered to make authoritative decisions, without anywhere near enough information to do so, and armed not with weapons of mass destruction but with experience and a sixth sense to tell, lead and guide everyone involved with whatever it is they deem necessary to get the job done or the problem solved.

You can live without a friendly dictator, but you’ll find if you delve into it, all – that time and effort will be being wasted as milestones arrive and then whizz past, and people are then trying to backtrack and catch up. And you’ll find money is being wasted on activity, goods and services that may not even be needed had someone made a decision earlier on. All of this waste, confusion and uncertainty means your live event, exhibition or pavilion is inherently never going to live up to its full potential, never going to offer the most value, or deliver the most impact.

You could replace the word dictatorship with leadership, but leadership also tends to be more democratic, and it’s decisive decision making, sometimes riding roughshod over process and protocol, that’s needed. It needs doing with care and sensitivity, and by someone with relevant experience as decisions may not be popular, yet they need to be respected. It does need to be dictatorial. Ambiguity is bad. So make sure you have someone leading your live event, someone directing the content or purpose, and someone directing the technical and logistics side of things who can step back and let the democratic management approach take its natural course, while that works, but who are also able, willing and empowered to get all dictatorial when necessary, with enough empathy and experience to do so with respect and authority.

Get this right and watch how the value, creativity and impact of your activity increases.

Thanks for watching, questions welcome, and I’ll speak to you again soon.